Day Two of Plaid Pete Discovers What's Living

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SWBAT classify items from a list as living, non-living, or dead.

Big Idea

How do scientists classify parts of living things, and things that were once living but have been changed? Students discover the living and non-living components of messy rooms, go to Science Court, and help Plaid Pete get it all sorted out.

Setting Up the Investigation

This is Day Two of a Two Day Lesson.  Click here for Day One of Plaid Pete Discovers What's Living.

On Day One of this investigation, students engaged in a guided exploration that led to their understanding of the characteristics shared by all living things.

On this second day, students will further refine their understanding to encompass the categories of living, once living (or dead) and non-living.  This will allow them to sort through a list of items and accurately categorize them.  This two day investigation is critical for students' understanding of the biotic and abiotic factors that combine to create the kind of interdependent relationships that create a balanced ecosystem.  

Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards

In this investigation, students begin the work that will lead them to explore the Disciplinary Core Idea of Ecosystems:  Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics -  that food of almost any kind of animal can be traced back to plants.  Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants. Some organisms, such as fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms (both plants or plants parts and animals) and therefore operate as "decomposers."  Decomposition eventually restores (recycles) some materials back to the soil.  Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met.  A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a a relatively stable web of life.  Newly introduced species can damage the balance of the ecosystem. (5-LS2-1) and the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models  - A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions (5-LS2-1).

Please Note:  The Lexile Level for Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 13 is 870 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010).

The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 10 minutes.

Materials Needed:

Day One

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems - Lab Scenario Sheet - Lesson 6

Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems - Observation Charts - Lesson 2

Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems - Observation Chart Labels - Lesson 2

Day Two 

Clean Your Room, Harvey Moon, by Pat Cummings

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Discovers What's Living In Ecosystems Lab Sheet - Lesson 3

Focus & Motivation

10 minutes

Introduce the Read Aloud

I gather my students in our meeting area.  I tell them that I have the book that Plaid Pete and Seth were supposed to read for their project - the one about the kid who also needed to clean his room.  I remind them that it had a list of "stuff" that Plaid Pete and Seth were supposed to sort into living and non-living for their project for Mrs. Glaze.

I explain that this book was written before the internet and technology became a part of our everyday lives - back in a time when kids woke up on Saturday mornings and actually did things like watched cartoons.  

And I begin reading Clean Your Room Harvey Moon! - "On Saturday morning at ten to nine, Harvey moon was eating toast, waiting for the cartoon show that he enjoyed the most."

They love this book!  I knew they would.  They assure me that their rooms aren't really as bad as Harvey's - no dead grasshoppers, and "icky" stuff that's "dripping and sticky."  But I know better - I've seen their desks.

I tell them that it seems that Harvey had quite a long list of things in his bedroom that Plaid Pete and Seth will need to sort out.  Some of them look fairly easy after our activity yesterday, but some of them are a little tricky.  I say, "I think I have just the bit of missing information that will help us with this task - back to our desks!"

Learning Objective & Success Criteria

Note:  Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson.  These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.

I share the learning objective and success criteria:  

Learning Objective:  I can classify items from a list as living, non-living, or dead.

Language Objective:  I can participate in a discussion by making comments, and by elaborating on the comments of others.  [ELP.4-5.2]

Success Criteria:  I can complete my lab sheet with 80% accuracy.


30 minutes

Introduce the Video

I pose a question to my students - "Is an orange tree living?"  That seems like a fairly easy question for most of them.  Then I ask, "How about a leaf from an orange tree - if it falls to the ground is it still considered living"  We are beginning to have some disagreement.  Then I ask, "How about orange juice from the oranges on the tree - is that considered living?"  Students are beginning to see that trying to apply the criteria we learned yesterday can be difficult in real life situations.

I tell them I think I have just the solution for our dilemma - we need to go to court - Science Court.  I tell them to get ready to listen carefully and see what kind of information they can get about this whole notion of living and non living.  

Play the Video

I play the video for my students, Science Court Living Things.



Key Concepts 

I stop the video at the following points and have my students copy these notes (as written below) into their Science Notebooks, as I write them into my notebook.  They are Key Concepts that they will need to complete the Team Activity that follows:

10:15 - Parts of living organisms are also considered to be living.  If they are separated from the organism, then they are no longer living and are therefore dead.

14:20 - If something has the "potential" to be alive, for example, an egg - then it is considered living.  This means it has the capacity or ability in the future to grow and reproduce.

16:50 - If living things, or parts of things are "processed" then the new item is considered non-living.

At the end of the video, I tell my students, "I think you are ready now to assist Plaid Pete with this project."

Yes, it seems like a lot of time to invest 23 minutes to watch this video.  However, it can assist students in sorting out complex information.  The context of the video makes the scientific reasoning memorable for students.  I heard lots of discussion during the team activity below where students included the phrases, "like the chicken bone," and "like the wallet."  Students at this age and stage have difficulty applying a set of criteria or constructs (e.g. the 7 characteristics of living things) to a specific real life application.  They always seem to have a, "What if . . .?" scenario.  This video gives them something to go back to - a touchstone to use as a frame of reference, as in this Video Clip of a student discussion during the Team Activity below.

Team Activity

15 minutes

Set the Task

I hand out the Plaid Pete Discovers What's Living In Ecosystems Lab Sheet - Lesson 3  I tell teams, You now have the information you learned about the 7 characteristics of living things, and the video to assist you in completing this task.

We read through the directions and discuss the items in the box.  I make sure that all of my students understand all of the items on the list.  I know some students may not know what a "fungus" is.  I Google pictures of both the fungus and mold and display them on my projector so that my students can see what they are.  I ensure that they understand what all of the items are, providing any additional pictures as necessary.

I circulate among my teams of students, questioning and prompting as they complete this task.  When I added "walking stick" to the list, I had forgotten about the insect.  Some of my students did not though!  This student notebook is an example of a revision that was made during a group's discussion.

Reflection & Closure

10 minutes

Class Discussion

When my teams have completed their lab sheets, we gather in the meeting area for a class discussion.  I ask a team to share out what items they determined belonged in each of the categories.  I then ask if there are any teams that disagree.  When there is a disagreement, I tell my students, "You must provide evidence for your claim."  I point to the observation charts that I have left up from yesterday, and reference the video and notes that were taken today. 

I shouldn't be surprised - but I am.  I am finding that even my brightest students need assistance in examining their claims against accepted scientific principles (e.g the 7 characteristics of living things).  Then I remember that student misconceptions are an important part of the development of scientific concepts.  They need this practice of examining their beliefs against the measuring stick of the "rules of science" as in this Video Clip in order to allay these misconceptions and integrate new learning.